Broke-Ass Confessions: I Like Williamsburg
I write about Williamsburg a lot and that’s because I live here. I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary, in fact. But I’ll admit it. I was kind of hatin’ on my own neighborhood for a while.
When you’re not snobby about music and could care less about owning a record player or pair of RayBan sunglasses, it can seem a little hard to fit in. And, well, there’s just a lot of stuff that’s so easy to make fun of. But once you realize you don’t have to be a hipster to enjoy this neighborhood (or that it’s OK to be a hipster, if you are one), you can see the beauty of living here for what it is: a young, cheap (‘cept for rent), artistic mecca for weirdos and French bulldogs. But seriously.
From $4 Crif Dogs to free pizza, Williamsburg’s restaurant revival includes some of the best high-in-calorie/low-in-cost foods to accompany your grimy libations. And many of these establishments are less crowded versions of their Manhattan originals (Caracas, Meatball Shop, Crif Dogs, etc.). Monday nights at Lodge feature free wings with a drink purchase, and you can feed at least four people with a $10 plate of Commodore’s nachos (my personal favorite) any time your cheese addiction flares up (and mine does often). If pizza is more your thing, the Charleston and the Alligator Lounge dole out free slices with your beer. And if you’re classing it up with a whiskey, do yourself a favor and go to Noorman’s Kil, where you can also get some gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in the $5 range.
And when you’ve filled up on enough complimentary grease and fat, look no further than down the street to burn it off.
Wanna work out?
McCarran Park not only has a track to run around like a dog chasing its own tail (sorry, really not a fan of track workouts), but there’s also stations with bars and various platforms on which to perform exercises. There’s also the enormous public pool there, but if that’s overwhelming, the recreation center and indoor pool on Metropolitan and Bedford is a highly affordable way to keep in shape at just $75 for a six-month membership. Retro Fitness may look like a one-of-a-kind McDonald’s meets Equinox type of establishment (it’s actually a franchise), but this place is only $20 a month, and – though it’s known for it’s ’80s throwback vibe – it’s actually quite modern, offering classes such as P90X and Les Mills. North Brooklyn also has its own, free running club you can join.
Need new clothes?
Yes, Williamsburg does have a lot of overpriced boutiques, but lest we forget about Buffalo Exchange on Driggs and North 9th. This is called the safer way to shop. You still get your cute, new-clothes fix while increasing the odds of paying much less due to the whole second-hand nature of Buffalo Exchange. While some of the surprisingly very few thrift stores around the neighborhood may be overpriced, you can also venture slightly north to Manhattan Avenue, into the Greenpoint neighborhood, for some cheaper options. You may end up with a Polish grandmother’s old church dress, but even that outfit will fly here. It’s Williamsburg, after all.
Many a night meandering, I’ve run into production crews filming HBO’s Girls – once in front of the C-Town grocery store, another time in Bar Matchless. And if you’re spending time aimlessly walking the streets, you can bet Subaru Dude is aimlessly driving them – and de-gracing everyone with his Gilbert Gottfried esque singing voice. There’s also the gentleman who, accompanied by his boombox and his own god-given voice, puts on lavish performances outside of Crif Dogs. You’ll see many a character if you hang around here long enough. The entertainment in people-watching alone can’t be beat.
Looking to leave?
One of my favorite things about Williamsburg is that so many trains are, like, right there. Whether your escape is via the L, the G, the J, or the M trains, all of them make stops in Williamsburg (even that mysterious Z train, which, to this day, I still have not seen and am convinced it’s an express route to Hogwarts or Narnia).
My only gripe about this place right now is that, supposedly, we’re getting a Whole Foods store – and not a Trader Joe’s – pretty soon. This is still a young neighborhood, dammit, and I’d like to pay $2 for my cereal, not $7.
Photo Credit: Me